The top US general Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted on Wednesday (Sept 29) that the United States "lost" the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
"It is clear, it is obvious to all of us, that the war in Afghanistan did not end on the terms we wanted, with the Taliban in power in Kabul," General Mark Milley told the House Armed Services Committee.
"The war was a strategic failure," Milley told a committee hearing about the US troop pullout from Afghanistan.
"It wasn't lost in the last 20 days or even 20 months," Milley said.
"There's a cumulative effect to a series of strategic decisions that go way back," said the general, the top military adviser to President Joe Biden, who ordered an end to the 20-year US troop presence in Afghanistan.
"Whenever you get some phenomenon like a war that is lost – and it has been, in the sense of we accomplished our strategic task of protecting America against Al-Qaeda, but certainly the end state is a whole lot different than what we wanted," Milley said.
"So whenever a phenomenon like that happens, there's an awful lot of causal factors," he said. "And we're going to have to figure that out. A lot of lessons learned here."
Milley listed several factors responsible for the US defeat, going back to a missed opportunity to capture or kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora soon after the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan.
He also cited the 2003 decision to invade Iraq, which shifted US troops away from Afghanistan, "not effectively dealing with Pakistan as a (Taliban) sanctuary," and pulling advisers out of Afghanistan a few years ago.